READ HERE: “I am a Miracle” (Part 1), Story of the Shooting that Changed Kearria’s Life
Kearria Freed was a 20-year-old Alabama A&M student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Kearria took a bullet to the head when 22-year-old David JaMichael Daniels opened fire at a spring break party last year in Panama City Beach.
Madonna Burden — Kearria’s mother — received a phone call and endured a distraught car ride all the way to the hospital, three hours east.
“The first thing one of the nurses said was, do you know a priest or preacher?,” Burden recalls. “We don’t expect [Kearria] to make it through the night.”
The bullet exploded in Kearria’s head upon impact, severely damaging her brain. Doctors would remove her right temporal lobe, rebuild half her skill with metal plates, and reattach her right ear.
However Kearria would suffer a stroke during the six-hour surgery, paralyzing a part of her face and the left side of her body.
“You know I’m know thinking [after the surgery] that she’s gonna make it,” Burden said. “I think if she does make it, she’s gonna be in a vegetative state.”
But Kearria would rally and awake in the hospital, using basic hand gestures to describe her pain level and communicate with doctors and family.
The real breakthrough came when Kearria’s younger sister put a pen in her hand.
“I love y’all,” she wrote. Kearria held up that inspirational note to News 5 cameras.
“We can and we will get through this,” Kearria wrote in another note to her mother.
Kearria would spend a month in the hospital before being accepted to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where doctors specialize in brain and spinal injuries.
For Kearria, there’s little doubt she’ll regain her independence and do her favorite thing in the world — tear up the dance floor.
“He took that from me,” Kearria said of the gunman. “But just temporarily, cause I’ll be back.”
Kearria did just that on her 21st birthday party in March, triumpantly returning to the dance floor.
Next up she wants to “retire her wheelchair,” even going as far to stand up on her own during her interview with News 5, just to snap a picture for Facebook.
IN PART 3 ON WEDNESDAY: KEARRIA REGAINING HER INDEPENDENCE ONE STEP AT A TIME AT PROVIDENCE HOSPITAL